… As Experts task FG on PPP to bridge infrastructure deficit***
The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) on Thursday night in Abuja, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ITScope Consulting Limited to launch the i-MSME portal.
The Director-General (DG) of SMEDAN, Dr Dikko Radda, said the i-SMSE portal would foster economic growth and development of all MSMEs in Nigeria when deployed.
Radda urged Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to leverage on the portal to grow their businesses.
Describing the i-MSME portal as a real-time integrated ICT platform, the DG noted that it would provide a digital solution to most of the problems faced by MSMEs in Nigeria.
“There are lots of things that are put in place today to ensure that the MSMEs can use a digital platform to enhance their businesses and add value to their productions.
“For you to grow your business you need a bit of competition, and this will provide a platform to enable MSMEs to compete globally.
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“We are seeing a lot of improvements on the use of technology.
“Since COVID-19 started, a lot of MSMEs have embraced the use of technology in the sale of their products, purchase of their equipment and in getting customers and this has helped in the growth and development of MSMEs.
“With this platform in place, I think we will have the end-to-end progress in the use of technology and digital economy,’’ Radda said.
He asserted that the portal would aid the ongoing mass registration of MSMEs in the country by SMEDAN.
“SMEDAN is carrying out a mass registration exercise for the last three years and we will continue on the platform.
“The essence of the mass registration is to ensure the MSMEs have the details of where they operate, what kind of services they render, what they produce and what location they are.
“This is so that we can have and source for data and anybody who requires data on any of those MSMEs can get it,’’ Radda said.
The DG expressed the agency’s commitment to strengthen efforts to sensitise stakeholders to key into the programme.
Earlier, Mr Ajibola Edwards, Executive Director, ITScope Consulting Limited, said that the partnership proposed to create the first MSME socio-economic digital solutions ecosystem in Nigeria and Africa.
According to Edwards, it will set off a holistic multiplier effect for Gross Domestic Product growth and drive the engine of the informal sector of Nigeria.
“The direct connection between SMEDAN’s programmes, ITScope Consulting and the i-MSME, will allow MSMEs to quickly access funds and address other challenges encountered by the sector.
“This includes real-time access to local and regional markets, logistics issues, accounting and tax issues as well as reducing the high cost of doing business among others,’’ he said.
In another development, financial analysts have urged the Federal Government to explore more Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models as a panacea for the country’s 1.5 trillion dollars infrastructure deficit in the next 10 years.
The financial analysts said this in separate interviews with the newsmen on Friday in Lagos.
A tax consultant, Dr McAntony Dike, said that the involvement of the private sector would change the infrastructural trajectory of the country.
Dike, who is a former President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, said encouraging more big corporates to fix decaying infrastructure and granting them temporary tax relief was quite innovative.
“This tax holiday model to fix infrastructure by corporates is good because due process is often followed through.
“Transparency is entrenched and the suspicion that trails government infrastructural projects, does not exist here,” he said.
He noted that private sector-led investment to fix infrastructure was the best because the government could not fund them due to more competing demands.
“The Federal Government’s responsibility has surged, due to the times, and there is no serious improvement of its revenue.
“Especially now that the economy is just gradually recovering from the headwinds caused by the pandemic,” Dike said.
Also, the President Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr Boniface Okezie, said that harnessing more of the PPP approach could bridge the infrastructure gap.
“The model over the years has been a vehicle to transform critical infrastructure deficit and economic development.
“Particularly in advanced economies, where they have successfully bridged their infrastructural gap to a reasonable level,” he said.
Okezie noted the Build Operate and Transfer, (BOT) approach was another antidote the government could consider more often to fill the infrastructural gap.
“This model allows the investors to manage the facilities over time and return it to the regulators after their investment has been recouped.
“Our authorities could harness these approaches to fix key infrastructure that is imperative to the country’s economic growth,” he said.
Okezie said that the Federal Government might also come up to the capital market to raise funds for key infrastructural needs.
Newsmen report that President Muhammadu Buhari told world leaders that Nigeria needs at least 1.5 trillion dollars in the next 10 years to close its infrastructure deficit and achieve an appreciable level of the national infrastructure stock.
Buhari said this in Glasgow at a COP 26 high-level side event on improving global infrastructure.